US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that Washington will hold accountable all those involved in the killing of a dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“The Secretary emphasized that the United States will hold all of those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable, and that Saudi Arabia must do the same,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement on Sunday.
The top US diplomat has previously said Khashoggi’s murder “violates the norms of international law,” and that the US was reviewing possible sanctions on individuals identified as having been involved.
Khashoggi, who was a US resident since 2017 and a columnist for The Washington Post, was critical of Prince Mohammed and the country’s devastating war in Yemen, a conflict which also came up during Pompeo’s call, Nauert said.
Pompeo “reiterated the United States’ calls for a cessation of hostilities and for all parties to come to the table to negotiate a peaceful solution to the conflict,” she said.
The killing of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, and the Saudi war against Yemen, which has pushed the impoverished country to the brink of famine, are two of the main sources of strain in the decades-old alliance between Washington and Riyadh.
Bin Salman, also known as MBS, has played a direct role in overseeing the Saudi-led coalition fighting against Yemen and has also been accused of orchestrating the murder of Khashoggi on October 2.
But Pompeo and US President Donald Trump have both emphasized America’s important commercial, strategic and national security relationships with the world's largest oil exporter and second largest arms importer.
Ankara increased pressure on Riyadh on Saturday after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country had shared recordings related to Khashoggi’s killing with Riyadh, Washington and other capitals, adding that the operation had been ordered at the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.
Turkey has been demanding, to date without success, the extradition of those involved in the killing.
Trump and Erdogan discussed how to respond to the killing, a White House official said on Sunday. The conversation took place on the sidelines of ceremonies in Paris marking the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War l.
After initially denying the murder, Saudi Arabia finally admitted the 59-year-old journalist had been murdered at its diplomatic mission in what it termed a “rogue” operation.
Pompeo’s latest remarks come just days after the announcement of the end of a controversial refueling arrangement between the US and the Saudi-led coalition carrying out strikes in Yemen.
The Pentagon had provided refueling capabilities for about 20 percent of coalition planes flying sorties over Yemen,
The end of the arrangement comes amid ongoing international outcry over Saudi actions in Yemen, particularly after a string of Saudi-led strikes that have killed scores of civilians, many of them children.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the country’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.